When Minnie, one of our Retirement Living Service Delivery Officers, was making her daily welfare calls to her residents she learned that one resident was making himself busy during lockdown by researching the background of the historic building he was living in – our Montpelier House scheme in Kenilworth near Leamington Spa.
“I was talking to a new resident at Montpelier House and asked him how he was coping with self-isolation. He said he had started to research the history of Montpelier House and had already managed to go back as far as 1871 when the building was simply known as 10, Abbey Hill.
At that time the building seemed to be used as a school of some kind with that year’s census listing 9 pupils, two governesses, a general servant and a visitor as its residents.
In the 1881 census however, the building seemed to have become the family home of a Draper, Mr and George Turner, his wife Anne, their two daughters Annie and Emily and his sister-in-law Catherine. The family were obviously quite well-to-do locally, as the building is quite substantial for just one family and it appears they were also able to afford three live-in servants (a cook, a parlour maid and a housemaid).
Sadly the subsequent 1891 census indicates that although George was still living in 10, Abbey Hill, he had become a Widow. He remained there with his sister-in-law and both of his daughters for some time.
By the 1911 census George was still in residence but by now he was living with just one of his daughters as well as his sister-in-law. There is also a listing on this census of a ‘Sick Nurse’ who had apparently moved in, presumably to care for George who by then was 78 years old and, as he was still entered on the census as Widow, he seemingly hadn't remarried.
Further research showed that much later, during World War II, Army personnel were billeted at the property, with the Home Guard based there, and it was also a place where children’s dried milk and malt tablets were dispensed.
By 1953, Directory records show that the building was named as both the ‘Fuel Control Office’ and the ‘Ministry of Labour and National Service Employment Exchange’
In 1957 it was purchased by Kenilworth Urban District Council and the Civil Defence Volunteers and the Women’s Volunteer Service moved in.
After hearing this amazing history of one of our buildings, I mentioned to the researching resident that I was looking for something to send to other residents that would help take their mind off Coronavirus and the current government social distancing and movement restrictions, and this sounded ideal. He has kindly offered to send me all the information he finds so I can pass it on to the other residents there who, like me, might find it incredibly interesting. I can’t wait to receive the final document and read what else he’s managed to discover…”